understanding through the pain

As I had shared in an earlier post, my husband has been dealing with a bum gallbladder since Christmas. We were thrilled when we got the call informing us he was booked in for surgery Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. (which later was moved to noon, and actually occurred closer to 4 p.m.).

He had been told by a couple of doctors that he would likely require the cut-you-open type of gallbladder surgery since he had previous scarring in the area. This style of surgery would require six weeks of recovery time, while the more popular laparoscopic variety of gallbladder removal would require only a couple weeks of downtime. Therefore, I was ecstatic when the surgeon called me out of the waiting room to say my husband’s “very diseased” gallbladder had been removed through four tiny incisions in his abdomen.

Since it was classified as an out-patient surgery -- we were coaxed out the door at 7:30 p.m. the same day -- I think we both have been surprised at the level of pain that remains three days later. He woke up yesterday morning complaining of four gunshot wounds to the gut.

The silver lining to all of this (for me ... probably not so much for him) is a conversation we had night before last. I had just finished helping him into bed using a method I discovered after my C-section. I finished up my bedtime rituals and crawled in next to him. He reached over and firmly grabbed my hand.

“I don’t know how you managed to deal with pain like this on top of being awake for 52 hours, dealing with people coming in and out of your room, learning to breastfeed and taking care of our new baby,” he said. I could faintly see the light bulb glowing in the dark there above his head, but he could not see my tears.

I didn’t realize how much I needed him to understand and verbalize my experiences from those first few weeks of parenthood. Although my husband was extremely supportive throughout pregnancy, birth and beyond, there was always a gnawing feeling in the back of my mind as it was happening. He simply could not fully understand. No matter how much he wanted to comfort me or tried to encourage me, there was a physical barrier to complete comprehension that could not be bridged.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons I hungered for new mom connections so ravenously in the early days? I desperately needed to listen to and talk with other moms about shared experiences and common emotions. I dove into online searches and read numerous birth stories. Somehow reading about other people’s C-section experiences seemed to validate my own struggles with pain and disappointment, and those “dream birth” stories renewed my hope for the future (and simultaneously made me want to stick my tongue out at them).

I regret that my sweet husband has had to go through such horrible pain before and after his gallbladder surgery. I anxiously await the return of that little twinkle in his eye that will let me know the pain has finally subsided.

However, I do welcome the understanding that has come through the pain. I am comforted to know that when I recount the happy, and not-so-happy, memories of November 2008, my best friend in life can now walk out to meet me on that bridge with both emotional and physical empathy.



3 comments


Tara said...

Laura my sweet friend. I love this! May I link it from my counseling website with some postpartum sites? Miss you! We need to talk soon. -Tara

Amy K. said...

You know I will never forgive myself for telling you that it was going to be a piece of cake. We talked for the better part of an hour about hypnobirthing and having a natural birth and how it was going to be smooth sailing for you. After you told me about how difficult your experience was, I vowed never again to tell a mom-to-be what to expect. More than ever I understand how different each experience is and how you can never predict what will happen. You are a brave soul and a wonderful mommy!!!

Laura Monchuk said...

Sweet Amy, please don't feel bad about that conversation! That talk helped to calm my nerves, and I went in with the most positive attitude that I could have. I don't regret expecting the best. Next time I must expect the best as well. I've never been one to prepare myself by thinking the worst.

What I can change for next time is how I talk to myself afterward. I became pregnant to have a healthy child in the end, not necessarily to have a lovely birth experience. Lovely birth experiences exist -- yours is an example and you should never hesitate to share it. While my birth experience was not what I had planned or hoped, the end result is more beautiful than I could have ever hoped for!

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